letter from london | november 2011

courtesy of vitorio benedetti

by Melanie Nelson

October was fabulous, warm and sunny and very pleasant, as we waited outside in the queue for the privilege of entry to The Frieze Art fair 2011.  Regents Park was taken over by a massive tent sheltering 1000 Artists from 33 countries, apparently the best in International contemporary Art… I am not so sure.

Whilst there was a sprinkling of real Artists – Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei  and Christo – the majority was pretty depressing, or as one observer put it “a desperate money-grabbing parasitic bazaar which exists within a tiny bubble insulated from reality.”

The exceptions being Serbian Artist Marina Abramovic’s video  The Kitchen:Homage to Saint Therese and a compelling and deceptive work by Taryn Simon The wailing wall Jerusalem a photograph of a fascinating 1:25 scale Israel, with 25,000 mini Israeli residents.

Anish Kapoor at Frieze

Taryn Simon “The wailing wall, Jerusalem"

To cheer myself up I also took a trip to Berkeley Square and the impressive Pavilion of Art and Design, now in its third year, it’s a collection of 45 of the world’s best known dealers in iconic design and art mostly from the 20th Century; Leger, Picasso, Warhol, Paul Evans, Charlotte Perriand, Adolf Loos.

There were also a few young pretenders from the 21st century: a fabulous bronze Gorilla by Francoise-Xavier Lalanne represented by Ben Brown Fine Arts; a great sculptural light fitting by Stefan Lindfors through the Modernity gallery specialist in Scandinavian Design; and David Gill Galleries was showing the Dune table by Zaha Hadid

François-Xavier Lalanne, Singe Avisé (très grand), 2005/2008 Bronze

Light fitting by Stefan Lindfors 2011

Dune table Zaha Hadid 2007

Ms. Hadid never seems to be out of the design press recently, winning The Stirling Prize for the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton, South London.  Apart from her trademark angular shapes the main feature is a bright-red 100m sprint track running right through the site, an imaginative way of including an outside sports facility where space is very limited.

Although Zaha Hadid is now a world renowned Iraqi born British Architect, it is only with this award that she has been recognized for a major work in the UK particularly surprising as the Olympic Velodrome by Hopkins Architects was the expected winner.  I am sure this well deserved accolade is also a great boost for Brixton.

Evelyn Grace Academy, Brixton, South London

Olympic Velodrome

melanie nelsonMelanie Nelson is the co-founder of Addison Nelson Design and AND Furniture.  She is based in London working on a diverse range of exclusive private and commercial interiors in South East Asia and Europe.

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